The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the state government and the BMC to submit their reply to a habeas corpus petition filed by a member of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) alleging that a fellow member had been "illegally quarantined" by the authorities.
Justice CV Bhadang heard the habeas corpus petition filed by one Mahendra Singh seeking release of a fellow member of CITU, K Narayanan who had been sent to BMC's quarantine facility in Andheri and his phone had been confiscated by the police.
Petition contends that Narayanan was providing food and essential supplies to the migrant workers and the poor. Meanwhile, on April 21, CITU had called for a nation wide protest march regarding measures to practice social distancing. Consequently, Naryanan along with two others was carrying placards to be given to participant members in the protest and the police approached him. Senior police officials then sent him to Jogeshwari for STPCR test and later packed him off to BMC's quarantine facility in Andheri.
Senior Counsel Gayatri Singh appeared on behalf of the petitioner and submitted that he has been quarantined in breach of the revised guidelines for Covid-19 testing, and in any event, there is no need to quarantine him in an institution as the guidelines envisage that the person can be home quarantined, Singh said.
Furthermore, the petitioner's STPCR has been negative and he is otherwise asymptomatic. However, results of the test conducted on April 21 were released the next day but it was not revealed to the petitioner until April 29, Singh told the Court.
Upon taking instructions from the client, Gayatri Singh informed the bench that the petitioner has been provided with the clothes and the mobile handset has been returned by the police.
On the other hand, PP Deepak Thakre submitted that Narayanan has been quarantined in accordance with the guidelines. Also, Thakre informed the bench that Narayanan was quarantined for a period of 14 days, which is going to expire on 3rd or 4th May, 2020.
Justice Bhadang observed-
"It appears that there are two contrary versions as to the circumstances, in which the Petitioner is being quarantined in an institution."
Thus, the next date of hearing is May 5.
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